Core ColdFusion 5

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The project-based guide to enterprise ColdFusion 5 development!

  • Develop serious applications with ColdFusion 5—fast!
  • Practical, project-based coverage delivers skills and code you can use right now
  • Database integration, Flash graphs, XML, wireless development, and much more
  • New ColdFusion 5 features: user-defined functions, ...
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The project-based guide to enterprise ColdFusion 5 development!

  • Develop serious applications with ColdFusion 5—fast!
  • Practical, project-based coverage delivers skills and code you can use right now
  • Database integration, Flash graphs, XML, wireless development, and much more
  • New ColdFusion 5 features: user-defined functions, query-of-queries, and data-driven graphs
  • Complete, working applications include an e-commerce site, a banner ad management system, a WML address book application, a site search, an intelligent agent, a ColdFusion 5 certification practice test, and much more!
  • Includes complete CFML tag and function reference
  • CD-ROM: 30-day evaluation copies of the latest Macromedia ColdFusion 5 products, plus an unrestricted copy of ColdFusion Express, and all source code

Core ColdFusion 5 is a relentlessly practical, project-focused guide to the specific techniques and skills you need to build serious enterprise applications with ColdFusion 5.

Certified ColdFusion expert Eben Hewitt walks you through constructing and integrating several increasingly complex, real-world applications. Every project delivers critical skills you'd otherwise have to learn through trial and error—and provides rock-solid code you can use in your own projects.

Hewitt's realistic "notes from the field" cut through the hype, helping you jump start your own projects—and build working systems fast. From the fundamentals of CFML to advanced database integration, to building a complete e-commerce site and XML-based content serialization, there's no better book for devewant to get the job done.

  • Preparing your ColdFusion environment and installing ColdFusion 5
  • CFML fundamentals: variables, templates, expressions, conditional logic, structures, arrays, lists, and functions
  • Designing and working with relational databases
  • Building a secure application framework and providing for state management and personalization
  • All of the new ColdFusion 5 features: user-defined functions, query-of-queries, and data-driven graphs
  • Deploying ColdFusion applications in wireless environments
  • Includes a complete ColdFusion 5 tag and function reference-plus step-by-step guidance on creating your own custom tags


The accompanying CD-ROM contains completely unrestricted copies of ColdFusion Express and Macrodmedia Flash Toolkit for ColdFusion, all of the book's source code, plus 30-day evaluation copies of all these Macromedia enterprise development tools:

  • ColdFusion 5.0 Enterprise Application Server for Windows, Linux, and Solaris
  • ColdFusion Studio 4.5
  • HomeSite 4.5
  • Macromedia Spectra 1.5 Application Framework
  • JRun Java Server 3.0.1 for Linux and Windows
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Eben Hewitt, author of Core ColdFusion 5, possesses truly encyclopedic ColdFusion knowledge. (He's created ColdFusion sites visited by nearly 2,000,000 people a month. He's also a regular ColdFusion Developer's Journal columnist, a member of the prestigious ColdFusion Edge faculty, and head of production at a leading Web development shop.) But this book doesn't share everything he's learned: only the 800 pages worth that'll do you the most good, right now.

Core ColdFusion 5 is an exceptional resource for any Web developer with problems to solve. Maybe you've already built many dynamic sites using ASP or JSP, and you want a different alternative (or you've been called upon to enhance a site that already uses ColdFusion and CFML). Or maybe your experience is primarily with "static" sites, and you now need to deploy personalization, or e-commerce features, or interact with a data warehouse. Either way, Hewitt has written this book with you in mind.

It's packed with examples that programmers wryly term "non-trivial." Better yet, Hewitt shows you how everything fits together -- your web server, HTTP 1.1 headers, applications, conditional logic, you name it. He also points out the gotchas you'd otherwise have to learn the hard way. (Sure, you can use the CFLOCATION tag in your templates to quickly jump users to another URL, but thanks to HTTP headers, you can't set a cookie in the same template you're jumping away from.)

You'll start with an overview of how ColdFusion does what it does (and what's new in Version 5); then walk through preparing your ColdFusion environment and installing ColdFusion on both Windows and Linux servers. Hewitt then introduces the CFML language, which packages an awful lot of power in a very simple form. You'll learn how to use variables and output text to browsers; and pass data between templates. Next, using CFML's tags for expressions and conditional logic, Hewitt walks through creating a complete flow control framework that keeps your pages' graphics and HTML layout entirely separate from your ColdFusion code -- which makes a ColdFusion site a heck of a lot easier to manage.

The book includes two detailed chapters on integrating ColdFusion with your relational database -- even including how to design your database for effective use in Web applications. (The examples rely on SQL Server 2000 and Oracle 8i, though you can use ColdFusion with just about anything, all the way down to Excel spreadsheets.)

You'll find chapters on using ColdFusion to build mail-enabled applications; writing custom tags that extend ColdFusion's power; integrating XML and ColdFusion; providing for state management; serving data-driven Macromedia Generator graphs; and even creating "intelligent agents." The culmination of the book: a start-to-finish 60-page application case study that integrates many of the smaller applications you've created in earlier chapters.

The book's several appendices are anything but an afterthought: not just tag and function references, but a guide to common errors and what to do about them; best practices for ColdFusion development; an overview of wireless development with ColdFusion; even a briefing on getting a job with your ColdFusion skills.

Then, there's the accompanying CD-ROM -- containing the most comprehensive set of ColdFusion tools you can get for free without resorting to piracy.

You get 30-day evaluation versions of ColdFusion Enterprise Server 5.0 for Windows, HP-UX, Sun Solaris, and Linux; ColdFusion Studio 4.5.1, Macromedia's optional template development environment; the HomeSite 4.5.1 HTML editor; the Harpoon Flash Toolkit, which gives ColdFusion access to the capabilities of the Flash Player; Macromedia's JRun 3.0.1 server for JSP, servlets, and EJB; and Macromedia Spectra 1.5 for Windows and Sun Solaris, the packaged application solution for content management, e-commerce, and personalization. You also get ColdFusion Express, Macromedia's free, unrestricted, low-end ColdFusion server -- plus, of course, thousands of lines of code from the book. (Bill Camarda)

Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer with nearly 20 years' experience in helping technology companies deploy and market advanced software, computing, and networking products and services. He served for nearly ten years as vice president of a New Jersey–based marketing company, where he supervised a wide range of graphics and web design projects. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks For Dummies®, Second Edition.

From The Critics
This project-focused guide demonstrates techniques for using ColdFusion 5, and provides advice on building software. Sample code is provided, and examples illustrate major points. Chapters focus on the World Wide Web, installation, markup language, flow control, functions and complex data types, database design, ColdFusion administrator, loops, scripting, the application framework, graphing, email, file and directory management, custom tags, XML, intelligent agents, and e-commerce. An accompanying CD-ROM includes copies of ColdFusion Express and macromedia Flash Toolkit, as well as the book's source code, and evaluation copies of other tools. Hewitt is a certified ColdFusion Developer and a certified SQL Server Administrator. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780130660619
  • Publisher: Pearson Education
  • Publication date: 10/15/2001
  • Series: Core Series
  • Edition description: BK&CD-ROM
  • Pages: 992
  • Product dimensions: 7.04 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 2.63 (d)

Table of Contents

1. Getting the Lay of the Land.
What Is ColdFusion? What Can It Do for You? Why ColdFusion? What's New in Macromedia ColdFusion 5? What Difference Does the Macromedia Merger Make?

2. The World Wide Web and HTTP.
What Is the Internet? Application Servers.

3. Preparing Your ColdFusion Environment.
Operating-System Requirements. Hardware Requirements. Choosing a Web Server. Choosing a Data Server. Choosing a Version of ColdFusion 5. Getting ColdFusion 5. What's Next?

4. Installing ColdFusion 5.
Step 1: Checking Installation Requirements. Step 2: License Agreement. Step 3: Customer Information. Step 4: Web Server. Step 5: Choose Destination Path. Step 6: Choose Components to Install. Step 7: Assign Passwords. Step 8: Confirm Selections. Step 9: Install Files. What ColdFusion Installs on Your Machine. Troubleshooting Your Installation. Installing ColdFusion on Linux. Uninstalling ColdFusion.

5. ColdFusion Markup Language and Variables.
Introduction to the ColdFusion Markup Language. How to Begin. Your First ColdFusion Template. Setting and Outputting Rules.

6. Passing Data Between Templates.
What Is Scope? Scopes Available to ColdFusion. The CGI Scope. Conclusion.

7. Expressions, Conditional Logic, and Flow Control.
What Are Expressions? What Is Conditional Logic? Flow Control. A Complete Site Flow Control Framework.

8. Functions and Complex Data Types.
What Are Functions? User-Defined Functions. Working with Lists. Arrays. Structures. Putting It to Work.

9. Designing a Relational Database.
Three-Tier Architecture. What Is a Database? The Relational Database. Normalization. ADatabase Creation Script for Microsoft SQL Server. Tips for Writing a Database and Planning Your Web-Based Application. Conclusion.

10. Working with Relational Databases.
Data Manipulation Language. Connecting to a Database. ColdFusion Datasources. Creating a Datasource in ColdFusion Administrator. ,CFQUERY. Inserting Records. Updating Records. Deleting Records. Joins. GROUP BY. HAVING. A Complete Search Engine Application. Conclusion.

11. A Note about the ColdFusion Administrator.
Server. Security. Tools.

12. Loops.
What Is a Loop? The Query Loop. The Conditional Loop. List Loops. Looping over Structures. ,CFFLUSH.

13. ColdFusion Scripting.
How Does CFScript Work? Conditional Processing. Looping. Another User-Defined Function. Conclusion.

14. The ColdFusion Application Framework.
Defining the Application Framework. Session Variables. Client Variables. Server Variables. Error Handling. Logging Site Information with ,CFLOG. Creating a Personalized Web Page.

15. Graphing with ColdFusion.
Making a Simple Graph. Horizontal and Bar Graphs. Pie Graphs. Line and Area Graphs. Speeding Load Time with ,CFSAVECONTENT. Using ,CFGRAPHDATA. A Complete Data Drill-Down Graph Application.

16. Sending and Receiving Email with ColdFusion.
Sending Email. Sending HTML Email. Conclusion.

17. File and Directory Management.

18. Writing Custom Tags.
Advantages of Custom Tags. Disadvantages of Custom Tags. Creating a Simple Custom Tag. Passing Values into and out of Custom Tags. Making a Banner Ad Custom Tag. How ColdFusion Finds Custom Tags. Nested Custom Tags. Encrypting Custom Tags. Conclusion.

19. XML and ColdFusion.
XML. WDDX Datatypes. Serializing and Deserializing Data. WDDX in Action. Conclusion.

20. Creating Intelligent Agents.
CFHTTP. The GET Method. The POST Method. What Do We Do Now?

21. A Complete E-Commerce Application.
Store. Shop. Images. Queries. Checkout. Admin. Conclusion.

Appendix A: ColdFusion 5 Tag Reference.
Appendix B: Coldfusion Function Reference.
Appendix C: Common Errors and What to Do about them.
Appendix D: Getting a Coldfusion Job.
Appendix E: Getting Certified in Coldfusion.
Appendix F: Best Practices.
Appendix G: Wireless Coldfusion with Wap and WML.
Appendix H: Coldfusion resources, User Groups, and Hosts.
Appendix I: SQL Function Reference.
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First Chapter

Chapter 1: Getting the Layof the Land

Topics in This Chapter

  • What is ColdFusion?

  • Why ColdFusion?

  • What's new in ColdFusion 5?

The world is full of problems, which is lucky for programmers. Then we get to have jobs. In a sense, ColdFusion is a set of tools that meet the challenges posed by business and communications. You can use ColdFusion to quickly and easily create data-driven websites. If you're familiar with HTML's tag-based structure, you can start making dynamic websites in short order with ColdFusion.

What Is ColdFusion?

ColdFusion is a couple of things: it's the ColdFusion Markup Language (CFML)—a tag-based language you can use to quickly and easily create dynamic, interactive, data-driven websites; it's also the ColdFusion Application Server (CFAS). CFAS is the software that translates the tags into commands that gather and manipulate data from the Web environment.

First, a bit of history. Two brothers, J.J. and Jeremy Allaire, founded Allaire Corporation in 1995 to bring ColdFusion, the world's first Web application server, to life. ColdFusion, the company's flagship product, was marketed entirely on the Web, fueled by a personal investment of $18,000 by J.J. Allaire. Jeremy Allaire, Macromedia's Chief Technology Officer, graduated from Macalaster College with Bachelor's Degrees in both Political Science and Philosophy. In 1999, the brothers began to expand their core product and made Spectra, the world's first packaged system for content management, e-commerce, and personalization. Six years later, in March 2001, Macromedia purchased the company for over $360 million.

You've heard of software and hardware. ColdFusion is middleware. Middleware is any software that performs some kind of translation or conversion. It serves an intermediary function by translating the code you write using ColdFusion tags into an HTML document so that it can be displayed in a Web browser.

It's a Web Programming Language

By now, we're immersed in dynamic websites—that is, websites whose content changes based on user interaction. E-commerce sites and news sites are prominent examples of dynamic sites; they pull their content from databases and deliver an experience to the user based on the user's interests. Intranets (private websites for an organization's internal use) and extranets (websites that provide a private tunnel between two or more organizations) are often dynamic.

To hardcode such sites in HTML would be an endlessly expensive and exhausting task. So, along with the "static" portions of our website (the parts that rarely change), we write web applications. A web application is a shopping cart on an e-commerce site, an online scheduler and contact book, webmail program, or password-protected area that allows office administrators to update the content of the site via a Web interface without touching a line of code. It's software that runs only on the Web.

ColdFusion is a terrific tool for Web applications because it's relatively easy to learn, it's tag based (so it seems familiar to people who know HTML), it's scalable (so it's easy to adapt as your needs adapt), it plays well with others (meaning it can communicate with the Java Programming Language (Java), COM, and CORBA objects), and it's flexible (you can even make your Web apps available for PDAs and Web-enabled cellular phones, which we'll learn how to do later in this book).

ColdFusion is a full-featured Web programming language. You write ColdFusion using conditional logic, tags (about 85 altogether), scripting, and functions. ColdFusion functions are similar in syntax and style to functions in other languages. Both regular expressions and complex data types are available to you, such as structures, arrays, and lists.

It's a Web Application Server

The function of the ColdFusion Application Server is to process all inbound requests that are passed to it by the Web server. CFAS processes all the ColdFusion tags and functions, turns them into HTML pages, and delivers that content to the client. To understand how to approach creating Web applications, it is important first to see that Web applications are ways of solving business problems and replicating business logic. But what do those things mean?

In a sense, many things we do each day involve challenge and response. We might have to figure out how to get three people in different cities on the same conference call at the same time, or how to make the city council meeting notes easily available to the public. Maybe we're charged with making Velma and Phyllis—who have hated each other for years—talk to each other now that they're in the same cubicle set. These things are business problems. They are challenges that organizations face which require a solution

Often, too, there is a certain way that certain things must be done—the pink paper goes in the blue folder on Tuesday, and yellow papers go in the red folder once they're signed, but they all go in the green folder on Friday. Perhaps you receive a statement from a supplier that needs to be resolved into a quote for a client, once you've marked it up. This is what we refer to as business logic. It is the process or series of events contingent on one another that allow everything to move forward.

You will code more efficiently, faster, and smarter, with a greater chance to reuse your code, if you consider your ColdFusion applications within a framework of business problems and the accompanying business logic. This book was written with this tenet at the forefront.

And now, with ColdFusion 5, you have access to even more powerful reporting tools via probes, advanced logging, and (on Windows Servers) a direct communication with the Performance Monitor—a sort of cardiogram of your system, applications, and resources.

With ColdFusion you get an interactive debugger, which we'll examine later, which gives you a great deal of information regarding your pages as they execute. This makes it easy to figure out what's going wrong in your code, how long your database queries are taking to execute, what the local and passed variables are, and more.

It's a Web-Based Administration System

ColdFusion 5 ships with what is referred to as the ColdFusion Administrator. It is a web-based application, itself written with ColdFusion tags and functions, that allows you to manage your datasources, manage your ColdFusion log files, create Verity collections, and more. Now with ColdFusion you can set up probes to retrieve information about the health of your applications and the ColdFusion server. Another new feature of the administrator is the ability to interact with advanced third-party management systems, or deploy entire applications as one ColdFusion Archive (CAR) file. The administrator is the interface from which you handle these things.

It's Secure

You can use ColdFusion templates over a Secure Sockets Layer, or disallow use of certain advanced ColdFusion tags such as CFREGISTRY (which allows you to view, edit, and delete keys in the server's registry). If you want to offer a shared hosting environment, the Advanced Security Feature lets you set up sandbox security on your server so that roles- and rules-based interaction can be permitted with granular control. It also allows you to easily "turn off" the use of certain advanced ColdFusion tags.

What Can It Do for You?

Using ColdFusion, you can do a lot more than write dynamic Web pages and shopping carts. You can do really fantastic things with standard tags that would take dozens of lines of code in other languages. You can send and retrieve email over the Web, and exchange data with COM, CORBA, and Java objects. You can use a subset of XML (Extensible Markup Language) called WDDX (Web Distributed Data eXchange) to serialize and expose packets of data as generic XML; with this power, you can communicate with Active Server Pages, retrieve news headlines from, and much more. You can also perform file and directory manipulation, perform FTP post and retrievals, and use a tag called CFHTTP to retrieve entire Web pages and dynamically incorporate them into yours. It's powerful stuff.

Communicate with Relational Databases and Other Data Sources

With ColdFusion and ODBC, OLE-DB, or native database drivers, you can manipulate stored data on Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, Postgre, Oracle, Access, Paradox, IBM DB2, and Sybase databases. You can even manipulate the databases themselves. You can create and drop (delete) databases, create, alter, and drop tables, insert, update, view, and delete data—in fact, you have the full power of the SQL available to you.

You can even use other sources of data, including Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and plain text files.

Why ColdFusion?

There are a lot of languages for you to choose from when you develop Web applications—ASP, JSP, CGI, and JavaScript, to name a few. These are all widely accepted, and have books and popular websites devoted to them. ColdFusion can take the Pepsi Challenge with all of them (see Table 1.1).

Table 1.1 ColdFusion, ASP, and CGI Compared



Microsoft ASP


Rapid Deployment




Cost of Software


Free with IIS














Runs on Windows,




Linux, Solaris, and HP-UX




You can check out a much more comprehensive comparison chart online at

Don't be daunted by the cost of the software. With programmers' costs spiraling above lawyers' hourly rates, the speed at which you can plan, write, debug, and deploy your applications has far more impact on Total Cost of Ownership than the price you pay for the software. Because of the readability of the language, minor changes and updates to ColdFusion applications can be worked on by interns or others in your office with only a beginning knowledge of ColdFusion. This frees up the heavy hitters to do what they do best—and saves the company money.

For instance, compare the two snippets of code below. First, in ASP (VBScript):

1.,% 2.      Dim RandomFraction 3.      Randomize 4.      RandomFraction 5 Rnd 5.      Response.Write(RandomFraction) 6.      %.

We can write code in ColdFusion that accomplishes the exact same thing. It looks like this:

1. ,cfset RandomFraction 5 Rand(). 2.      ,cfoutput.#RandomFraction#,/cfoutput.

I'll let you judge which one is easier to read, faster to debug, and simpler for beginners to get their mitts around. Hint: One is twice as long as the other.

Just to whet your appetite, let's take a quick look at this code. First, we notice that the code is inside , and . signs, which, we remember from HTML, indicate the beginning and end of a tag. Then we notice that the text inside the tags begins with "CF," which stands for ColdFusion. In fact, every ColdFusion tag starts with "CF," which is how the CFAS knows to interpret the tags. So right off the bat we see that the above code has two different ColdFusion tags: ,CFSET. and ,CFOUTPUT..

We use the CFSET tag to declare a variable—that is, to say, "I want to reserve this name for a moment because it's going to hold some value that I will refer to later." In this case, that variable name is "RandomFraction."

We then call the ColdFusion function Rand(), which tells ColdFusion to "generate a random decimal number between 0 and 1." So in the first line we've declared a variable and set it to a particular value. At this point (the end of line 1), ColdFusion has a value and has a way to refer to that value. But it hasn't done anything with it. For example, it hasn't displayed (output) it on the Web page. We need to use another ColdFusion tag, ,CFOUTPUT., to display the contents of a variable. Just as ColdFusion knows that it should specifically process tags that begin with ,CF, it recognizes the hash mark (or pound sign) as surrounding variables, results, and functions. We'll discuss functions in depth later.

If we were to rewrite the above two lines of code in plain English, they would look like this:


Line 1:

Reserve a little space in memory and give it the name "RandomFraction" to distinguish it from other places reserved in memory. Make it equal to a randomly generated decimal number between 0 and 1.


Line 2:

Output to the web browser whatever the value of the "RandomFraction" variable is.

We might also write:

1.,cfset FirstName 5 "Eben".


This time we don't use a function. We just set the value of the variable FirstName to the text string "Eben." Then we output the value of the variable just as before. If we saved our little file with a .cfm extension and uploaded it to a Web server running ColdFusion, we might see output like this:


If we then hit "Refresh" in the browser, we would see a new randomly generated decimal between 0 and 1.

This just gives you a small idea of how easy it is to start working with ColdFusion, and how straightforward the language can be. The fun part will be discovering how powerful it is. Let's look now at what's new in ColdFusion 5.0.

What's New in Macromedia ColdFusion 5?

If you've had a little experience with ColdFusion, the thing that's obviously new is the name (it used to be Allaire ColdFusion). It also gets a new Macromedia look. ColdFusion 5 represents a pretty significant upgrade from 4.5. Here are some of the major new features:

Enhanced Productivity

  • User-Defined Functions—create reusable functions to accelerate development

  • Streamlined Security Configuration—quickly and easily secure applications

  • Business Intelligence Capabilities—provide enhanced decision support

  • Charting Engine—create professional quality charts and graphs from data queries

  • Reporting Interface for Crystal Reports 8.0 (for Enterprise Edition only)—create professional quality tabular reports from data queries

  • Enhanced Verity K2 Full-Text Search—index and search up to 250,000 documents using the embedded Verity K2 search engine with an easy upgrade path to index unlimited documents

Enhanced Performance

  • Query of Queries—reduce database overhead by querying cached data sets or join queries from multiple data sources

  • Incremental Page Delivery—improve response time by delivering page output to users as it is built

  • Wire Protocol Database Drivers—provide high-performance, reliable database connectivity

Easy Management

  • Application Deployment Services—reliably package, deploy, archive, or restore entire applications

  • Enhanced Application Monitoring—monitor server performance and availability with customizable alerts and recovery

  • SNMP Support—monitor ColdFusion applications from enterprise management systems

  • Server Log Analysis—quickly detect and diagnose problems

Expanded Integration

  • Expanded Linux Support—new support for SuSE and Cobalt Linux distributions

  • Enhanced Hardware Load Balancer Integration—optimized, agent-based support for hardware load balancers including new support for the Cisco CSS 11000

  • Enhanced COM Support—easier integration with COM components

What Difference Does the Macromedia Merger Make?

Along with these major upgrades come some interesting new capabilities for those of you familiar with the Macromedia product line. The larger company has greater resources behind it, and can now offer products that take advantage of the combination of server-side software, development tools, and dynamic content generation.


With Harpoon, a free download developed in Spring of 2001, you can easily create and customize Macromedia Flash interfaces for your ColdFusion forms. Programmers at" target="new"> have helped turn this into a really exciting new tool. Check out Figleaf Software's site for a number of helpful documents and answers to questions you might have about Harpoon and how it can enhance your forms. The basic idea is that your application can perform data checks without making a round trip to the server. And the interfaces have a great look and feel as well. A copy is included on this book's CD-ROM.


Macromedia Generator is the solution for dynamically updating the content of sites that implement Flash. ColdFusion interacts with Generator to create scheduled (offline) content updates, and rich graphical charts for data reports. Using the ,CFGRAPH. tag, it's easy to represent your data relationships by creating Gantt charts, pie charts, and more.


If you're deciding whether or not to upgrade from a previous version of ColdFusion, you'll be happy to know that ColdFusion 5 processes more than 75% faster than 4.5.

Still Need a Reason (Got Java?)

Whether you're a developer, a server admin, a project manager, or a student just starting a career, you've got a lot to work with when you choose ColdFusion. If you write Java, you want to know that you're on a platform that can support you.

Not only does ColdFusion allow you to send and receive information from Java objects via the ,CFSERVLET. and ,CFOBJECT. tags, but there's an entire line of support for you as you continue to develop Java applications.


JRun software offers a complete IDE for writing, testing, and deploying server-side Java applications. It's a visual environment which respects your code as you create Servlets and Enterprise Java Beans. ColdFusion uses existing architecture within JRun to take advantage of increased performance and other new features.


Macromedia's Kawa software offers a complete IDE for writing, testing, and deploying server-side Java applications. It's a visual environment which respects your code as you create Servlets and Enterprise Java Beans. It also integrates with JRun.


The next version of ColdFusion, 6.0, is currently code-named "Neo." It is scheduled to be released in 2002. The major difference between the current version and Neo is that Neo will be rewritten in Java, and will therefore be able to offer greater platform support, and leverage more significant interaction with your existing Java applications. You won't need to know any Java at all to work with Neo, any more than you need to know C right now to work with ColdFusion 5. Your applications will just run faster, and incorporate better Java support.

In ColdFusion 6, the tag language will be implemented as Java Server Page tags. That means that ColdFusion tags will compile to Java Servlets, and programmers will be able to freely mix ColdFusion and Java.

So let's get to work. We're going to have a lot of fun.

*Depending on whether Professional or Enterprise edition is purchased

†Adaptive software, such as from ChiliSoft, is available at extra charge

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Core ColdFusion 5 is the book I wish I'd had when I began writing applications. One way of teaching programming is for the author to entice you, gentle reader, into the Technicolor landscape of the programming language at hand—the author is your friendly guide, pointing out the dazzling array of colors and scents, while you, the Maui-shirted, floppy-hatted tourist, peer dimly into your map as you stand gawking dead center at the intersection of 42nd and Broadway. You get your required caramel milkshake at Ellen's Stardust Diner and move on to stand in line for Cats tickets. Or something like that.

This is a different kind of book.

I learned ColdFusion on the fly—devouring websites and books devoted to the topic, nosing about in newsgroups and loitering on lists while I tried to get my first applications up and running. I learned by reading, by asking endless questions, by trying things over and over until something clicked. I learned from the generosity of hundreds of programmers it has been my pleasure to work with. I don't view it as an academic subject. This learning process was all very glamorous, but I think I wasted a lot of time that I didn't need to waste.

The approach is this: programmers are, above all, problem solvers. That's what they get paid to do. Therefore, the language is presented as a set of tools that are available to you to solve business problems. The code you will work with will consist of numerous non-trivial, practical examples that you can build on and incorporate into your own websites. My belief is that you can learn best how it all fits together by seeing it in action, working together. Forinstance, it's fun to learn about cookies, and it's great to know that by using the CFLOCATION tag in your templates you can quickly jump to another URL. This is the sort of thing one learns as a programming tourist. Only when discussing a real-world application where all the parts have to fit together do you discover that, because of HTTP headers, you can't effectively set a cookie in the same template that you use CFLOCATION to get out of. But that's exactly the sort of thing you need to know when you sit down to write ColdFusion.

You are a person in the world where people live. This indicates a certain relationship with space and time. This book was designed with these key factors in mind. There is only so much space in a book, so what you've got in your hands is the set of tools with which to continue on your own: There's the complete tag and function reference. There are lists of dozens of websites where you can get ColdFusion code, find more information on related topics, discover hundreds of places where you can host your ColdFusion website, and more. You get a list of the common ColdFusion errors you'll run into when debugging your applications, what they mean, and how to fix them. You put together a ColdFusion application for Web-enabled cell phones and a working e-commerce site, complete with rotating banner ads.

The idea is to save your walls from the repeated impact of your head. This book will give you everything you need to get up and running quickly, effectively, and with an understanding of the real-world implications of developing with ColdFusion.

The remainder of this preface briefly illuminates key things you will need to start using this book, and ColdFusion, quickly.

Who You Are

This book was written for anybody who wants practical knowledge of how to make Web applications on an easy, scalable, powerful platform.

You know HTML already. You do not need to know another application programming language. You do not need knowledge of Web servers or data servers.

Maybe you know ASP or JSP and want to learn another language. This book is perfect for you. Maybe you just took an IT job at Symantec or Doctor Solomon's or Bank of America or the University of Utah or the Recording Industry of America. Or maybe you were just elected Senator of your fine state, and, while browsing at noticed the little ".cfm" extension on your website and wondered what it was. All of the above organizations entrust their Web transactions to ColdFusion. And with good reason.

This book was also written for Web developers and for people who have done a static website or two and want to make their next one dynamic. The ability to create an online store, to interact with data warehouses via enterprise-level features such as stored procedures and data probing, lets you get really serious. The ability to personalize your website, catering its content to each individual visitor, will allow you to create truly compelling relationships with your users. The ability to search and share documents in just about any format will allow your organization to stay ahead of the information cycle.

Project managers and sales engineers will benefit from this book's discussions of planning an enterprise-level website and making all of the components come together.

Despite a seemingly universal predilection toward Mountain Dew, Web programmers are a diverse species. Whether you are a pleasantly dressed co-ed working in a college computer lab with well-modulated air, or if you're grinding out 18-hour days in a high-tech job shop and have recently started looking like the long-lost fourth member of ZZ Top, or whether you're all by yourself in your basement playing gladiator with IIS and scramming the cat from chewing your cables, this is the right book for you.

What You Need

You will need several things to work successfully through the exercises in this book. You will need a computer with a text editor. You will need access to ColdFusion Server 5 software, a Web server, and an Internet connection. A 30-day evaluation version of ColdFusion 5 comes on the CD-ROM with the book, Notepad or Pico comes with your OS, and Apache is free, so you're in pretty good shape.

What You Get

This is a practical book. Its purpose is to answer the questions you need answered by showing you how everything works together (HTTP 1.1 headers, the Web server, your applications, conditional logic, and so forth). Some of this may be old hat to you. I have therefore tried to flag you about beginner material that you may want to skip.

Here is what you get:

  • A clear, detailed explanation of the ColdFusion language and how you can leverage it to build fantastic Web applications.
  • Information, tips, and tricks about becoming a ColdFusion Certified Developer.
  • Thousands of lines of complete, working code.
  • On the CD-ROM, you get 30-day evaluation versions of Macromedia ColdFusion Enterprise Server 5.0 for Windows, HP-UX, Sun Solaris, and Linux; ColdFusion Studio 4.5.1 optional development environment for creating ColdFusion templates); HomeSite 4.5.1, Macromedia's award-winning HTML editor; The Harpoon Flash Toolkit; ColdFusion Express, the nonexpiring, limited-functionality product for serving ColdFusion pages; JRun 3.0.1, the award-winning server for Java Server Pages, Servlets, and Enterprise Java Beans; Macromedia Spectra 1.5 for Windows and Sun Solaris, the packaged application solution for content management, e-commerce, and personalization—written in ColdFusion!
  • A website companion to the book filled with even more ColdFusion resources. The website is located at Check out as well.

How This Book Is Organized

This book begins where HTML left off. We start with an overview of how the Internet works and an overview of what ColdFusion does. We then move into a discussion of SQL (the Structured Query Language), the language used to create and manipulate databases and their data. If you have a solid understanding of relational databases and SQL, you can probably skim Chapters 9 and 10.

Each chapter will have roughly the same structure. You will be introduced to the key concepts in a general way, and quickly move into details as they pertain to ColdFusion or application development. You'll come out of most chapters with a working example that you can take with you.

Because each chapter builds on the last, it is a good idea to read the book from beginning to end. If you're used to programming in another Web application language such as PHP, you might want to at least skim the introductory chapters on the World Wide We HTTP, as well as the SQL chapters, just so I don't make unfortunate assumptions.

As the book continues, and you've got the key concepts and a number of tags and functions under your belt, we'll start putting together bigger applications with a number of pieces that have to fit together. That is the only way you can learn how to work with ColdFusion in large-scale websites.

Many of the examples in this book were created with the ColdFusion Application Server running on a Windows 2000 with IIS 5. The database used in most cases is Microsoft SQL Server 2000. Oracle 8i is used in some examples. Access has generally been eschewed because, while it is inexpensive and therefore easier to get hold of, it is desktop software and unsuited to a production environment. You can make most of the examples in this book work with Access or Paradox with little or no modification. You can even use Excel spreadsheets and plain text files with some modification. That's a fabulous aspect of ColdFusion, and just one demonstration of its flexibility. However, I try to discourage the use of desktop database software with ColdFusion for applications that are likely to have more than a couple of concurrent connections or any frequency of use.

About the Website

If you point your browser to, you will discover the companion website to this book. It is meant to provide you with a resource for taking your applications to the next level and continuing your work.

Some features of the website include:

  • Databases, files, and code from the book
  • Code for creating the website
  • Enhancements and expansions to discussions i book
  • Links to ColdFusion hosting providers
  • Resource links for ColdFusion User Groups and the most useful ColdFusion sites on the Web
  • Information about becoming a Macromedia ColdFusion Certified Developer
  • A newsletter with product and informational updates on ColdFusion and Spectra
  • A forum for reader feedback—tell me what you think!
  • A schedule of ColdFusion and Spectra training seminars happening every month, all over the United States
  • Fun things like the ColdFusion challenge—a compendium of tips and tricks
  • Security bulletins

If I've done my job, this book will teach you what you need to know about ColdFusion in order to go do it in the real world. Hopefully it will also prove useful long after you know what you're doing—it has been organized to serve also as a reference. It's got the complete language in it, updated for ColdFusion 5. And it's got working examples that represent the most commonly needed tasks in Web programming today.

You can give me feedback at I welcome your comments and suggestions for future editions.

Thank you for picking this up. I really hope you like it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2001

    Hard Core!

    This book is fantastic! It is easy to follow because the Author is a great teacher and he writes telling it like it is. I'm a web developer and this guy gives you lots of code to use but also shows you exactly why it works. You never feel left there hanging like when reading some books. I felt like the Author was sitting next to me telling me what was going on. I didn't need all that jazz about web servers in the early chapter, but you can skip that. It was great.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2001

    A great ColdFusion book for beginners or advanced

    I usually read all of the new CF books that come out, being a professional CF developer, and this book is one of the best I have read for some time. I have also like Ben Forta's books in the past. This book, however, is quite good at getting right to the point on what someone really needs to know about ColdFusion. It is also great in that it gives real world examples. The only bad thing I could say is that chapter subjects could be in different order. It also has good Appendices full of references. I recommend it.

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